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University of Minnesota Extension

Engaging child care providers in the development of their trainings

Child care providers work with Extension to develop nutrition training

Several years ago child care providers in rural Minnesota helped to develop Start Strong: Cooking, Feeding and More. Start Strong is a series of four two-hour lessons aimed to assist family child care providers in creating a healthy food environment for children in their care. Over 200 family child care providers have taken at least one Start Strong training.

Lesson topics:

  • Ready, Set, Cook
  • Savor the Flavor
  • Exploring New Choices
  • Quick Meal Ideas

Every aspect of Start Strong was designed with child care provider input (read about how Extension’s nutrition programming offer practical benefits in meal preparation). Extension staff had experience teaching cooking classes, but not on how to cook while also caring for several young children. Provider input determined the training topics, recipes and hands-on activities. Helpful tips and promising practices shared by providers were also incorporated.

Recently, Start Strong was adapted to an online format. Nine Minnesota child care providers piloted the online training. One provider commented she did the course in small chunks when she had time available. She suggested adding information about video length so participants could decide if they had enough time. This change, along with many other suggestions, will help improve experiences with online lessons for other participants.

Overall, the online pilot was well received and recommended for other providers!  For more information on Start Strong, contact Mary Schroeder at hedin007@umn.edu.


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